Baseball Hosts No. 12 Arkansas
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky baseball team returns from a five-game road swing for a four-game homestand, hosting No. 12 Arkansas in a three-game Southeastern Conference series, starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
The games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. The Saturday game will be televised live by Fox Sports, with Dave Baker and Larry Conley voicing the action.
The Saturday contest will be held in conjunction with UK's annual spring football game, with the football contest kicking off at 3 p.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium. UK centerfielder Brian Adams, a scholarship wide receiver, will be competing for a starting spot during the football scrimmage, before venturing across Cooper Drive for the 7 p.m. ET first pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Fans that attend the football game will be admitted for free at baseball with a free roster card provided at Commonwealth Stadium.
Kentucky (17-21, 2-13 SEC) will turn to its weekend pitching rotation of junior righty Alex Meyer (3-5, 3.59 ERA) on Friday, freshman southpaw Corey Littrell (4-3, 6.13 ERA) on Saturday and sophomore lefty Taylor Rogers (2-4, 4.89 ERA) on Sunday. Arkansas will counter with lefty Randall Fant (1-2, 3.12 ERA) on Friday and right-hander D.J. Baxendale (5-1, 1.62 ERA) on Saturday, with the Razorbacks yet to announce a starter for Sunday.
A native of Greensburg, Ind., Meyer will be making his 10th weekend start of the year, leading UK in 62.2 innings pitched. Meyer has allowed only 54 hits and 32 walks, striking out 71. Last weekend, Meyer turned in the most efficient start of his three-year career at Ole Miss on Friday, tossing 7.1 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs, walking three and striking out seven for his team-best fifth quality start. A 6-foot-9, 220-pounder, Meyer was the hard-luck loser, as Ole Miss evened up the game in the sixth inning after UK dropped a two-out infield pop-up, allowing the game-tying run to score from second on the error. Fant has pitched in 13 games with four starts in 2011, totaling 34.2 innings, walking only nine and striking out 20. In his last start vs. Mississippi State, Fant went 4.1 innings, allowing five hits and one run, walking one and striking out two.
Littrell, a native of Louisville, Ky., and the reigning Kentucky Louisville Slugger High School Player of the Year, has appeared in 11 games with eight starts, tossing 47 innings with five quality starts. Littrell has struck out 35 and walked only 16. In his last start, Littrell went 3.1 innings at Mississippi, allowing eight hits and nine runs - five earned - walking two and striking out two. Littrell will face off with Baxendale, who was one of the top relievers in the SEC as a true freshman in 2010. Baxendale has appeared in 11 games with five starts, tallying two saves, tossing 39 innings, allowing only eight hits and striking out 40. In his last start vs. LSU, Baxendale tossed five shutout innings, allowing eight hits and one walk, striking out seven.
A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers has started nine games, tossing 53.1 innings, allowing 11 walks and 38 strikeouts. Rogers was one out shy of his fifth quality start of the year last Sunday vs. Ole Miss, going 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking four and striking out two. Rogers left the game with UK leading 5-3 in the sixth inning, with the UK bullpen blowing the lead for the loss.
Arkansas (27-9, 8-7 SEC) is coming off a come-from-behind win over Oral Roberts in Tulsa on Tuesday night. The Razorbacks have won nine of their last 10 games and have hit .274 with 24 homers and 72 stolen bases through the first 36 games of 2011. On the mound, Arkansas owns a 3.11 team ERA with 13 saves, striking out 290 and walking 121 in 321.2 innings.
The Razorbacks have been led offensively by freshman first baseman Dominic Ficcociello, who has batted .346 with 12 doubles with one triple, two homers and 31 RBI. Kyle Robinson has hit .328 with a team-high seven homers and 33 RBI. Catcher James McCann has hit .299 with five homers and 21 RBI, while second baseman Bo Bigham has batted .295 with one homer and 10 RBI. Centerfielder Collin Kuhn has batted .288 with three homers and 24 RBI, stealing a team-high 14 bases. Matt Reynolds has hit .266 with two homers and 16 RBI, while shortstop Tim Carver has batted .200 with one homer and 10 RBI.
Arkansas has been paced in the bullpen by Nolan Sanburn (2-1, 1.52 ERA), who has saved eight games in a team-high 17 relief appearances, striking out 26 in 23.2 innings. Trent Daniel (1-0, 1.90 ERA) owns one save and 26 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.
UK has been led offensively by senior shortstop Taylor Black, who leads UK with a .348 average, adding 12 doubles, two triples, two homers and 27 RBI, stealing 10 bases. Braden Kapteyn has hit .331 with nine doubles, one triple, five homers and a team-high 38 RBI. Thomas McCarthy leads the SEC with 15 doubles, batting .322 with a triple, four homers and 20 RBI, while freshman J.T. Riddle has hit .321 with eight doubles, three homers and 22 RBI. Adams has batted .320 with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 12 RBI, stealing eight bags. Chad Wright has hit .313 with 10 doubles, four homers and 26 RBI, stealing 13 bases and drawing a club-best 19 walks. Catcher Luke Maile owns a .273 average with eight doubles, one triple, five homers and 25 RBI, while Michael Williams has hit .250 with seven doubles, four homers and 13 RBI.
In the bullpen for the Wildcats, lefty Alex Phillips (1-1, 2.57 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 19 games, tossing 21 innings with only one walk. Freshman Trevor Gott (2-4, 1.88 ERA) has tallied one save in 24 innings and 18 relief outings, striking out 29 in 24 innings. Mike Kaczmarek (0-0, 6.94 ERA) has tallied four saves in 11.2 innings, while Kapteyn (0-2, 7.24 ERA) has saved two games.
Arkansas leads the series with UK, 30-18 and has won three consecutive series meetings between the two teams. The Razorbacks have won six of the last nine meetings in the series.
Last year the two teams squared off in an instant classic series, including a drama-filled rubber match on Sunday. In the Friday-night game, UK jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after the top of the third, holding on for a 12-8 series-opening win. UK got three hits from Glad and Wright, with Kapteyn batting 4-for-5 with three RBI and a homer. UK started Logan Darnell, who went 3.2 innings, allowing nine hits and five runs, walking two and not striking anyone out. Nick Kennedy got the win for UK, tossing 4.1 innings in relief of Darnell, striking out a career-best six. Arkansas started Mike Bolsinger, who allowed eight runs in 2.1 innings. In the Saturday contest, Arkansas plated 10 runs through the first five innings, posting a 10-1 win, getting a seven-inning outing from starter Drew Smyly. Rogers went four innings, allowing 11 hits and eight runs, with Jordan Cooper tossing a gem in relief, going four innings and allowing only one earned run. The Sunday game was an instant classic, as the two teams squared off in a drama-filled 17-16 Arkansas walk-off win. UK jumped out to a five-run lead with five runs in the top of the third, but Arkansas chased Meyer with eight runs in the second inning to take the lead. After owning a 13-5 lead after the fourth inning, UK started chipping away, scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth inning, before exploding four seven runs in the eighth to take a 16-13 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to Keenan Wiley's go-ahead three-run homer into the win in leftfield. With Matt Little on the mound to close in the ninth, Arkansas mounted a furious rally, with Kuhn belting a two-out, two-strike walk-off three-run homer, sailing into the wind in leftfield. Kapteyn led UK at the plate in the series vs. Arkansas in 2010, batting .500 with six hits, one homer and three RBI. Gunner Glad also hit .500 with a double, two homers and seven RBI. Black batted .417 with a homer and four RBI during the 2010 meetings, with Wright hitting .400 with two doubles and two RBI.
UK ranks throughout the SEC stats with UK leading the league in homers (32), slugging percentage (.448) and doubles (84). The Wildcats have several players in the SEC stats, including Meyer, who ranks second in the SEC in strikeouts (71), third in innings pitched (62.2) and first in complete games (two). Phillips ranks fourth in the SEC in appearances, while Mike Kaczmarek checks in eighth in the SEC with four saves. Black ranks second in the SEC in hits (55), ninth in runs scored (33), eighth in total bases (77) and fifth in doubles (12). McCarthy leads the SEC with 15 doubles, while Kapteyn paces the conference with 38 RBI. Wright ranks sixth in the SEC with 13 stolen bases.
UK will utilize two lots: the C8 lot behind Shively Sports Center, and brand-new Parking Structure 7 on the corner of Complex Drive and Jerry Claiborne Way. Both parking lots are only steps away from Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Fans who park in the PS7 lot will be given a parking value card to exit the structure free of charge. Value cards should be picked up at the baseball ticket booth prior to the fifth inning.
Fans should not use the university "R" lots adjacent to the dorms or on the south side of Nutter Training Facility. These lots are patrolled by the university 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fans that park in these lots may be ticketed or towed. Plenty of parking will be available in the C8 and PS7 lots.
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